Stewart fires Lads to victory with hat-trick.
12th February 2005
A Marcus Stewart hat-trick sent Sunderland on their way to a 4-2 victory over Watford at the Stadium of Light.
Stewart’s treble, along with substitute Chris Brown’s strike, maintained the pressure on Ipswich Town and Wigan Athletic at the top of the Championship as the 2004-05 campaign reached its final third.
Lloyd Dyer scored two late goals for the Hornets, though Watford failed to match the Black Cats for long periods of the game as Mick McCarthy’s side extended their unbeaten run to six games.
The hosts were ahead on 19 minutes as Stewart nodded Stephen Elliott’s fine cross beyond Paul Jones in the Hornets goal.
Watford, who had not won at Sunderland in 11 years, mustered little in reply other than a Gavin Mahon effort which he dragged wide from 20 yards.
Sunderland doubled their advantage on the half hour as George McCartney was tripped by James Chambers in the box and Stewart stepped up to send Jones the wrong way from the spot.
Heidar Helguson had the Hornets first attempt on goal just before the break, out-jumping Gary Breen, but Thomas Myhre was equal to the Icelander's powerful header.
Five minutes after the restart Jones had a moment to forget when McCartney's hopeful punt forward got caught up in the swirling wind and the keeper jumped underneath it, spilling the ball behind him at the edge of the area where Stewart was on hand to stretch and beat two defenders to the ball before prodding home.
The hosts’ fourth came 15 minutes from time as Dean Whitehead forced Jones into a point-blank save and from the resulting corner Brown tucked away Steven Caldwell's knock-down.
Watford pulled a goal back three minutes later when Dyer, on for Helguson, struck from close range following some pinball in the home penalty box.
And Dyer grabbed his second when he lobbed Myhre with seconds left of stoppage-time.
Sunderland: Myhre, Wright, Breen, Caldwell, McCartney, Whitehead, Robinson, Whitley, Arca, Elliott, Stewart (Brown, 67).
Subs not used: Alnwick, Welsh, Thornton, D Collins.